Treat your business like a game of rugby

It’s February, probably my favourite month of the year. Yes it’s cold and my smart car got stuck in the snow, but it is time again for the six nations rugby tournament.

Max McMurdoNow I don’t want you anti-rugby fans to turn away claiming egg chasing is a middle class sport for thugs. Those of you who know me, I hope will agree, that I’m neither middle class nor a thug! Well I’ve never seen a 5ft 8” thug prancing around in pink skinny jeans have you?!

I was fortunate enough to have been encouraged by my parents to play rugby from a young age. Some of you may not even realise, but rugby isn’t just available in the bone crunching variety you see on the TV. Youngsters play touch/tag rugby all over the country from a very young age, and hard tackling is actually a very small element of the game. Rugby teaches respect, team work and discipline which, without wishing to sound like a stamp collector, is missing from society today.

I must confess, I can understand that from an initial glance at the TV it does appear to be 30 blokes running around in Lycra (one team, who shall remain nameless, are even wearing pink Lycra this year!) punching each other while occasionally catching a miss-shaped ball!

I am going to try and explain why I am such a fan of the game and the relevance I feel this has to running a small creative business:

The forwards (big ones with funny ears) work tirelessly to support the player carrying the ball. In most sports you can run off trying to claim glory on your own and get isolated without worry. In rugby if you don’t have the support of your forwards you will get…… let’s say, a bit bruised!

The backs (pretty ones with better ears and haircuts) must also show discipline and not just chase said egg, it is very easy to get sucked in and not keep their shape defending their opponents. It is the responsibility of the backs to pass the ball out along the line to the flying wing men, who hopefully get past the opposition and score.

If you do get tackled you don’t just give up petulantly either, like another sport I shall not name (with a round ball and posey players). In rugby once you go to ground you must present the ball and release it. This process requires extremely good discipline, as the other team are challenging for the ball and instinctively you want to keep hold of it.

What on earth has all this got to do with entrepreneurship and running a business in Bedfordshire I hear you cry?

Well in my early stages of setting up reestore, I was very guilty of trying to play all positions. I did my own sales, book keeping, office duties, most of the fabrication, all of the design and development, even putting items in boxes, collecting junk and delivering. This is somewhat necessary in the early days as finances don’t permit staffing expenses. But as you grow your business you need to consider outsourcing various tasks and the cost of doing this against how much you could be earning if you focus on the bits you are good at. You wouldn’t send a speedy back into the scrum now would you? If you did you’d end up with a large fat man on the wing and that won’t score tries - or look very nice!

Another characteristic of running your own business which I find is essential to learn is coping with stress and pushing your own boundaries. It’s like taking a last minute penalty or drop goal I suspect.  Negotiating with senior buyers, working with well-respected business people or designing with experienced designers. It’s hard work emotionally and physically, just like I imagine singing the anthem in front of 80,000 supporters and pulling on your nation’s shirt!

So ultimately I guess I’m saying business is a team game. Yes you can achieve on your own, but to grow a business and create a successful brand you need to surround yourself with a great team. From steady functional forwards to exciting creative backs, and no doubt a couple of silly flankers along the way! You will get tackled and it will hurt, but you must get back up and learn from your mistakes.

The game will be emotional, there will be easy scores and much harder periods of defence. You must be disciplined, tough and respect the opposition. At the end of the game it can also be nice to remain friends, shake hands and go for a drink after J

Come on Scotland!


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